UGA speaks on how their weather network helps South Ga. farmers
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Everyone knows weather and farming are intertwined. That’s why the University of Georgia has been using its weather network to help farmers plant their crops. WALB’s Jim Wallace sat down with the UGA Weather Network’s director to learn more.
Ms. Knox, tell us what is the UGA Weather Network.
“Well the UGA Weather Network is a network of 89 stations across the state. You see a picture of one behind me. They are automated stations so we don’t have to have anybody sitting there taking the weather observations. That they are collected things like temperature, rainfall, wind, solar radiation, as well as soil temperature, soil moisture, and humidity. All of those things are very useful for agriculture producers across the state. So they use to track conditions in their own fields. And that tells them about things that they might need to do as far as putting out pesticides, to keep insects away. Or putting on herbicides to keep weeds down. And so this network has been operating for over 30 years now at some locations. Mostly in agricultural areas. We don’t have any in Atlanta right now. These provide real-time information at weather.ua.edu. For people who are interested,” Pam Knox, agricultural climatologist and director of the UGA Weather Network, said.
What are some of the findings you have made about what’s happening with agriculture in South Georgia?
“In South Georgia, you know, it’s a huge area for agriculture production. We have a lot of stations that are located there. We noticed over time, of course, there are a lot of year-to-year variability in the weather and climate. Which the farmers had to deal with on top of everything else. Like market. And the cost of inputs like market and the cost of it. Inputs like fertilizer and so on. But the weather information can be very helpful, both in monitoring their crop conditions and also going back later. And using our weather data to submit insurance claims for either big events, like Hurricane Michael. Or smaller events for where you have drought and you are just not getting the production you expect,” Knox said.
Farmers today are using a lot more technology to help them with their crops. And this is just another tool for them.
“Absolutely. Our weather information goes into several tools that the University of Georgia is putting together, including smart irrigation. Apps for cell phones that people can use to make sure they put on just the right amount of water. You don’t want to put on more than they need to because it drowns the plants. And it costs money because you have to pump it. And so by using weather information like this together with smart irrigation apps and other apps, it can really help farmers get more bang for their buck,” Knox said.
So the University of Georgia helping farmers and aiming toward the future as well.
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